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Who's in FRONT? Bob Wray

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on January 31, 2011:

Bob Wray

Bob Wray of Blue Ridge Tree Climbing is featured in the January 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo credit: Susan Ayers

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.

Executive Leadership Lessons in an Irish Pub

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on January 27, 2011:

From Paula Wilder:

Executive leadership lessons in Pepper's pub On a brisk Wednesday night in early January, 2011, I visited Pepper’s pub in Feakle, Ireland. The traditional Irish music jam started with three musicians.  The leader, Mark Donnellan, a fiddler and farmer, was joined by a singer-guitarist and a teen-age boy on concertina.  They started right in with jigs and reels.   More musicians arrived in ones and twos - an older woman with her fiddle, an American with his concertina, the Mahoney girls.   Within the hour, five more musicians appeared, each grabbing a stool, listening momentarily to the music and then diving in – flutes, harmonicas, accordions and fiddles - high-spirited, toe-tapping revelry.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off Mr. Donnellan’s encouragement of each young person’s delivery of a solo virtuoso performance.   Some young people were nervous, but each seemed to know that they needed to deliver a riveting rendition.  And each one of them did.

What struck me was that he didn’t make time for his own solo or offer solos to the older musicians.   Donnellan is focused on the next generation.    That’s a leadership style I can get behind.

Paula Wilder is an organizational effectiveness expert and senior partner at WilderWeber Leadership Group.  WilderWeber Group is a VT KnowledgeWorks member company in  Blacksburg, Virginia, and a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

She Chooses Featured on Beta List

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:30 AM on January 26, 2011:

Thank you so much, Marc Köhlbrugge, for announcing the upcoming beta release of She Chooses on Beta List!

She Chooses, the social network for women, is featured on Beta List!

She Chooses(TM) is a social network and algorithm-based application for women.  It's about feelings.

I had to laugh when I read Marc's guarded review and can appreciate it:  "Surely not for everyone, but that probably just makes it even more interesting for the people that are interested."  We're definitely developing an application that is, to quote pre-beta test observer Z. Kelly Queijo of SmartCollegeVisit, "unusual." And I can concur from personal experience with Margaret Stewart of YouTube, formerly of Google, describing the "complexity of an emotionally driven product" in Fast Company: "Things that are funny or sad, those are messy queries to deal with."

We've pre-beta tested She Chooses.  Here's the post about our pre-beta testing session and here's our video of the session on YouTube, Pre-Beta Testing She Chooses.

Women are invited to sign up to participate in our pre-public beta release through the She Chooses home page.

We learned about Beta List from Wade Hammes who tweeted us about Betali.st Gives Early Adopters a Heads Upon TechCrunch. 

We really appreciate the generosity of Beta List for sharing news of our start-up.  We're glad to reciprocate with Beta List's great news:  Beta List is an official media partner of the LAUNCH Conference 2011 to be held in San Francisco, California, February 23-24, 2011.  Good luck fellow start-up founder, Marc, and thanks again!

***

We're telling the story of the founding and development of She Chooses on About She Chooses on the She Chooses blog and in the category She Chooses on Handshake 2.0

On our site, you can read more about She Chooses and about the She Chooses team.  We share our latest news and latest features on the She Chooses blog, She Chooses on Facebook, and She Chooses on Twitter.

Inside the Software Development Process - Pre-Beta Testing of She Chooses

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 AM on January 26, 2011:

I am one of the four co-founders of She Chooses(TM) developing a social networking application for women.  Our software development process plans have been to #1 pre-beta test the application in-house, #2 offer an invitation-only pre-public beta test after that, then #3 release a public beta version.  It's taken longer than we anticipated, but #1 is no longer a plan - it's a reality!

Here's the story:

She Chooses co-founders Anne Giles Clelland and Laureen Fleming were joined by Z. Kelly Queijo, founder of SmartCollegeVisit, to observe three testers using the She Chooses web application at the offices of Automation Creations, Inc. in Blacksburg, Virginia on January 20, 2011. 

Thank you, Kelly Kendrick of First Bank & Trust Company, Kelsey Sarles of Coldwell Banker Townside Realtors, and Bethanne Trexell of NewCity, for being the first official users of She Chooses(TM)!  The video was filmed and created by Jarred Foresman of Blacksburg Media, creator of the Handshake video.

Pictured left to right in “the wave”:  Kelsey Sarles, Kelly Queijo, Laureen Fleming, Bethanne Trexell, Anne Clelland, and Kelly Kendrick.

Women are invited to sign up to participate in our pre-public beta release through the She Chooses home page.  Our upcoming She Chooses beta release was featured on Beta List.

We're telling the story of the founding and development of She Chooses on About She Chooses on the She Chooses blog and in the category She Chooses on Handshake 2.0

On our site, you can read more about She Chooses and about the She Chooses team.  We share our latest news and latest features on the She Chooses blog, She Chooses on Facebook, and She Chooses on Twitter.

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS, First Bank & Trust Company and Automation Creations are clients of Handshake Media, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Sales Lead Generation Advice from Online Dating

Posted by Maureen Carruthers at 7:15 AM on January 26, 2011:

Not contented to be known for some of the silliest, (and most addicting) personality tests on the Internet, the online dating site, okcupid.com , has started using their user data for some (slightly) more serious research.

Their latest findings prove interesting not only for those looking for love on the Internet, but also for small business owners who would like potential customers to seek them out.

Surprising qualities can inspire contact
OkCupid’s advice basically comes down to this:  The best way to get the people who will really love you to show themselves is to make sure you are turning other people off.

At first, this advice may seem counter intuitive - wouldn’t it be better to be generally well-liked?  The data says no.  Turns out, the very qualities that send some people screaming inspire others to make contact.

For on-line daters this means that highlighting a tattoo or voluptuous figure leads to more messages from potential suitors.  For sales lead generation, the lesson is not so different:

Naomi Dunford of Itty Biz is making a career out of having the biggest potty mouth in Internet marketing.

Havi Brooks helps people get unstuckified by dressing up in pirate costumes.  Her business partner is a rubber duck named Selma.

I am a nonprofit consultant with several postsadvertising how little experience I have with traditional nonprofit fundraising.

The OkCupid concept works off-line as well:

  • Slow Food restaurants emphasize the wait time to eat in their restaurants.
  • Quotations on roadsigns outside local churches serve as subtle messages about who will feel comfortable inside (and who will not).
  • High-end hotels charge twice as much as mid-range properties - with no free breakfast.

Could the key to business success be residing in a shadow?  Here's one way find out:  

Think about the aspect of your business that you most often try to hide.  Maybe you are open fewer hours than your competitors, or closed on Sundays.  Maybe your products are more expensive, or they take a long time to make.  Now, consider why you do business that way.  What advantages does this way of working bring to the right customer?  Once you know that, the final step is to stop thinking of this aspect of your business as a disadvantage to be hidden but rather as a beacon that you use to attract the customers with whom you most want to work.

Ready to give it a try?  We’d love to have your shadow-lurking solutions brought to light - starting in the comments!

When she’s not encouraging small business owners to offend people, Maureen Carruthers helps nonprofits find their raving fans at Low Hanging Fruit Communications. You're invited to read more from Maureen Carruthers on Handshake 2.0.

Intellectual Property Law Symposium from the Creekmore Law Firm

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on January 25, 2011:

From the Creekmore Law Firm:

Patents, trademarks and copyrights are the foundational elements for every successful business. The legal landscape for each is ever changing, creating difficulties for businesses and the counsel who advise them.

At our Intellectual Property Symposium at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia on February 11, 2011, three panels of veteran attorney experts will break down the substantive legal principles for patents, trademarks and copyrights.  We’ll provide insight from recent cases and trends in the law and offer guidance on hot topics and best practices for businesses and their counsel. Moderated and audience initiated question and answer sessions will focus the discussion on topics pertinent to your needs and help you learn what you need to know to protect your business and advise your clients.

The Symposium is open to attorneys in private or government practice, in-house counsel, business owners and decision-makers, marketers and advertisers, educators and students, and anyone interested in expanding his or her understanding of intellectual property law.

You can learn more about our Intellectual Property Law Symposium and register here.

Creekmore Law Firm Team

The Creekmore Law Firm's practice is balanced between business litigation and business counseling, with a heavy focus on intellectual property advice and litigation, including the extension and protection of trademarks, service marks, copyrights and patents, and all aspects of infringement litigation for each.  We are a member of The XDL Group, a multidimensional team of trial lawyers and IP professionals from six member law firms designed to handle the most sophisticated and complex intellectual property needs and cases nationwide. James Creekmore also is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law where he teaches Intellectual Property Law.

The Creekmore Law Firm PC is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Who's in FRONT? Joel Shepherd

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on January 24, 2011:

Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd of Virginia Furniture Market is featured in the January 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo credit: Susan Ayers

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.

5 Features to Look for in a Tech PR Firm

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on January 20, 2011:

From Robert Geller:

Rober Geller and George Morin share a Handshake 1.0 I have been asked on more than one occasion to provide advice about choosing a public relations firm.  After the urge to shout: “Me! Me! Please, pick me!!” subsides (after all, I am in the business), I generally step back and take a more objective approach.  Those who ask - often friends and family who are starting tech companies or work for tech-focused businesses - are counting on me for impartial advice.  The very real chance exists that the PR agency I work for may not be a good fit for their needs.  And we want to stay on top of our game, and reminding ourselves and others about objective criteria for choosing an agency is one way to do this.

The following list of features is a summary of advice I have given over the years.  I hope that you find it helpful.

1. Agency Size, Location and Fee Structure

Most agencies work on a monthly retainer or fee which corresponds to a fixed number of hours or specific deliverables/results.  This helps to ensure a consistent on-going effort and dedicated team, and provides a predictable monthly budgetary amount for clients.  Some charge by the hour and handle individual projects.
In PR you have a wide range of resources ranging from freelancers and 1-2 person shops that handle clients for $2-$4K / a month, to the largest agencies that generally won’t even look at you unless you can spend at least $10K a month.  The boutiques and mid-size firms fall somewhere in the middle.

Ultimately, regardless of agency size, the key things to consider are the creativity, experience/contacts and energy of the team.  There are freelancers who can do this and agencies of all sizes, too.   Make sure whoever you are talking to is not overloaded with existing commitments.

It can also help to consider the size of your program relative to other clients in the agency’s roster.  While it may feel good for a large, well-known agency to accept a smaller-than-typical fee, you should understand that it is not necessarily the squeaky wheel but the larger fee accounts that get the most attention.

Is location important?  Not quite as much as many people think, unless you are considering a PR program that is exclusively local or regional.   More and more business is done online and over the phone these days.

2. Agency Style

As part of your evaluation, try to better understand the philosophy and style of the agency.  No, this doesn’t mean Communism, Zen Buddhism, or Democracy, but more the style and feel of the agency itself.   Ideally, the prospective agency's team will ask you many questions – smart questions that reflect market awareness and due diligence.  This team is hopefully in search of ideas and knowledge that they can use to support media dialog and drive proactive campaigns – the types of PR that keep visibility high in between client-driven news.   One thing to intentionally avoid is the type of agency or freelancer that sits around and waits for press releases and client direction.

3.  Agency and Team Experience

Make sure that the experience of the agency is relevant, especially if it is a highly technical or specialized area.  Have they achieved success with similar types of clients?  The skills and work required to launch new companies and products are different than those needed to defend the position of market leaders.  Don’t necessarily be awed by work with market leaders if you are a startup.

Above and beyond the agency track record, what about the experience of the team?  What should you look for?  Before answering this, examine your needs.  Are you looking for help with strategy, execution, writing, or all of the above?  Do you have any PR-savvy people on your internal team, or will you be relying on the agency for all PR smarts and implementation?  Make sure that the agency team provides a nice counterbalance to your existing skill set.

4. Social and Traditional Media 

I am a big believer in integrated programs spanning social and traditional media.  Despite the growth of social media, it is hard to deny the importance of coverage in major media to generate initial buzz and drive online chatter.  By the same token, PR teams that are not effective in listening, engaging, and having clients heard through social media channels are at a real disadvantage.

Make sure that the agency has contacts and a track record with relevant media and analyst targets, and can demonstrate proficiency with social media.

5. PR Industry Awards, Requests for Proposals (RFPs)

I include the two items in the same category because their presence tends to favor larger agencies.  There is nothing inherently wrong with a company using RFPs to help level the playing field and to provide structure to the PR firm selection process.  Awards are impressive, and lack of them may seem to be a red flag.

It is a simple fact that larger agencies have teams dedicated to responding to RFPs and filling out the paperwork needed to submit applications for awards.  Also, they tend to have a larger selection of clients to cherry pick from when it comes to awards.  Agencies that look great on paper are not necessarily the best fit.

Tying it All Together

In sum, meet with the prospective PR company's team.  Make sure it is the actual team that will support your account should you hire the agency (some shops still unfortunately bait and switch, sending in the rain makers and muckety mucks to charm you and then throwing junior staff at the account). 
Kick their tires a bit.  Share what you are looking for and ask them to respond with their ideas and approach.  Make sure the skill sets, ideas and chemistry are right.  You will be on your way to selecting a great partner and getting the PR results you are seeking.

Thank you, Robert Geller and George Morin, Senior Account Executive, with Fusion PR for sharing a Handshake 1.0 photo with Handshake 2.0!

Robert Geller is Executive Vice President with Fusion Public Relations. He writes the blog Flack's Revenge. Bob has been a treasured advisor to Handshake 2.0 from its start.

Nothing Works Until You Do

Posted by Margaret Galecki at 7:00 AM on January 18, 2011:

When I first came to work at Coldwell Banker Townside in 2002, Mike Eggleston shared some of his best advice for a real estate agent or any business person:  "Nothing works until you do."

I admired that work ethic so much and didn't want to forget the wording, so I wrote it down on a scrap of paper and pinned it to my bulletin board for inspiration.  That same scrap has traveled with me as I've changed offices and still hangs, eight years later, on my bulletin board to inspire and guide me in the real estate business.

Nothing works until you do.

Margaret Galecki is the General Manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS in Blacksburg, Virginia. You're invited to read more by Margaret Galecki on Handshake 2.0.

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R), is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  You're invited to learn all about the Coldwell Banker Townside App, check out the CBTownside blog, Keepin' It Real Estate, visit Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) on Facebook, follow Coldwell Banker Townside on Twitter, and learn more about Coldwell Banker Townside on Handshake 2.0

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Who's in FRONT? Bob Archer

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on January 17, 2011:

Bob Archer of Blue Ridge Beverage is featured in the January 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Bob Archer

Photo credit: Susan Ayers

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.